Ngobeni opens up on ill-fated Pirates stint


Clifford Ngobeni, once tipped for superstardom in local circles, has opened up about his time at Orlando Pirates and reveals how things fell apart.

Ngobeni is currently playing for University of Pretoria alongside the likes of Collins Mbesuma in the GladAfrica Championship.

The 32-year-old, who spent three years at Pirates between 2010 and 2013 but was mostly loaned out to Golden Arrows, now reveals that moving to the Soweto giants was not even his first choice.

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The former Urban Warriors star had been tipped for stardom when he left Cape Town for Johannesburg, but fate had different plans for him.

Ngobeni never managed to cement his place in the first team at Pirates and explains that the changing of coaches after Pirates' first treble success was a big factor.

"You know the big teams are always recruiting, recruiting. At some point when Ruud Krol left and they appointed a Brazilian coach [Julio Leal], after I fell out of favour I asked for a loan," Ngobeni tells

"Things didn't go as planned regarding the loan issue, there was a lot of drama. It was stressful and it put me back in my career. I was going in and out of court. I ended up being not registered, so ja."

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Ngobeni believes he did well at Pirates even though his career did not take off the way it was supposed to.

"For me I didn't fail. I achieved what I wanted to achieve. Maybe I couldn't be there for my whole four-year contract but for being chosen to play for Pirates and winning three trophies, I mean it's a big thing," he says.

"I also took the step to say 'can I be released or at least go on loan'. You know sometimes when you keep on changing coaches it destroys a lot of things, you keep on changing players.

"I think Pirates have realised that later, that you can't always build as a big team as well. Even a small team, you can't always build every season."

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The AmaTuks midfielder reveals that when he left Ajax in 2010 his dream was actually to play for Bloemfontein Celtic and not Pirates.

"You will laugh if I tell you what team I wanted to go to at that time," he continues.

"At that time when I spoke to my manager there were three teams, and I won't mention all of them but Pirates was one of them, and myself I said Bloemfontein Celtic... at that time.

"Because Bloemfontein Celtic at that time you know they had a good team, they had a good support structure, the place where the team is based... they had something good going for them.

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"Looking at the supporters as well it was one of the teams in South Africa that was going to get bigger at that time. But unfortunately that didn't happen. I liked everything they were doing, looking at how they were building that team.

"But you know football is business, and at the end of the day you have to look at other issues as well. And we ended up choosing Pirates. They were also very interested in me so we chose them for obvious reasons.

"Because football you don't play for your whole life, sometimes you need to take a bigger challenge and see if as a person you can progress because you can't be always comfortable.

"At Ajax I was there for 10 years. So I gave myself to Pirates. It wasn't the greatest of times but I won three trophies with the team so I mean that's more than what I can ask for."

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